Concerns over China weigh on markets

Smurfit Kappa a highlight as Dublin holds up against negative European backdrop

Stock markets were mostly in negative form yesterday, with concerns over China's growth outlook continuing to weigh on investors' minds and the European holiday period starting to kick off.

The Iseq held up relatively well against the lacklustre backdrop, closing 0.17 per cent stronger on fairly light trade.

Smurfit Kappa was a highlight on the day after confirming that it had completed a major refinancing. Shares in the group, which is now officially no longer "leveraged", added 19 cent to close at €14.59.

Aer Lingus was stronger, rising 4 cent to €1.75. Stablemate and shareholder Ryanair fell 4.5 cent to €7.35.

Bank of Ireland, which is due to issue results at the end of next week, held its ground, adding 0.2 cent to close at 17.4 cent.


C&C was a notable performer as it climbed 6.5 cent to €4.16. The company is taking a premium listing in London, which carries more onerous reporting requirements and could potentially make it more attractive to a wider pool of investors. Also solid was Grafton, which was boosted by a positive update from UK peer Travis Perkins. Shares closed 11.2 cent higher at €6.00.

Elan also moved ahead as bid talk continued to swirl. The stock rose 26.2 cent to €11.072.

Losers on the day included Glanbia, Fyffes and CRH.

Providence was under pressure too despite issuing a positive update on its Barryroe interest. The stock, which fell by 4.9 cent to €4.90, remains in the doghouse after saying earlier in the week that it was closing a well.

UK stocks fell the most in almost three weeks as mining shares dropped and companies from Unilever to SABMiller posted sales that missed estimates.

BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto slid at least 1.5 per cent as copper fell for the first time in six days.

Unilever retreated 1.6 per cent and SABMiller lost 2.5 per cent. ARM Holdings tumbled the most in more than a month after Sanford C Bernstein said its valuation may drop in the second half. Rolls-Royce Holdings climbed to its highest price in more than two decades after profit jumped 34 per cent.

European stocks declined from an almost eight-week high as companies from BASF to ABB reported earnings that missed analysts' estimates.

BASF fell the most since April 2012 after also saying that full-year targets now look more challenging. ABB tumbled the most in three months as its first profit increase in six quarters trailed forecasts and its order book shrank.

Siemens plunged the most since March 2009 after saying it would not reach its profit-margin goal for the 2014 fiscal year.

US stocks mostly slipped in early trade yesterday, with cyclical sectors falling on some disappointing earnings and concerns about China's growth, although Facebook's rally gave the Nasdaq a lift.

The S&P 500 was on track for a third straight day of losses, while the Dow was set for a second negative day after Caterpillar cut its 2013 earnings forecast. Caterpillar's stock slid 2.1 per cent to $81.65.

The stock of Facebook scored its biggest daily percentage gain ever – up 28.3 per cent to a session high of $34. At midday Facebook's stock was up almost 26 per cent at $33.37 and topped the Nasdaq's list of most actively traded stocks a day after the online social network company posted a steep jump in mobile advertising revenue.

General Motors and Dow Chemical reported profits that topped expectations, but that was not enough to give the broad stock market a push into positive territory. GM's stock fell 1.5 per cent to $36.59 after earlier touching a two-year high at $37.70. Dow Chemical's shares, in contrast, gained 1.3 per cent to $34.83. – (Additional reporting: Bloomberg/Reuters)

Una McCaffrey

Una McCaffrey

Una McCaffrey is an Assistant Business Editor at The Irish Times